10 tips for eating locally and cutting the energy used to produce your food

Being a “locavore” means choosing food that is grown locally, and is one way that you can help ensure there is more food to go around.

To feed the predicted nine billion people in the world in 2050, the world will need to produce 70-100% more food. This unprecedented increase in food production will require substantial changes in soil management, land cultivation, and crop production.

This cannot be achieved without technological advances that increase crop yield and reduce the need to use nitrogen-based fertilisers. The question is how this can be achieved sustainably, while also tackling climate change.

This is where “eating local” comes in.

What is eating local?

The primary reason why eating local is good for the planet is the reduction in energy resources required for transport and storage. Generally, the further a food has travelled from “paddock to plate”, the greater its impact on the environment. This is because of fuel used in transport and increased greenhouse gas emissions used for refrigerated storage.

The mode of transport matters too. Transporting food by air generates 177 times more greenhouse gases than shipping it.

The global food system lets us eat food from all over the world, all year round. But food miles impact adversely on the nutritional quality of fresh foods, and on the environment.

Yet while eating foods grown close to where we live makes planetary sense, farmers markets and foods grown more sustainably (organically) often carry a price premium, and seem to be targeted to a trendy and wealthy demographic.

The lack of a definition of “eating locally” also raises questions of how to incorporate organic and fair trade produce within the larger sustainability movement, and how to support developing nations.

Global supply chains place great demands on ecosystems and natural resources, and large distances between where food is produced and consumed is often seen as evidence of an unsustainable food system. However, this is not always as straightforward as it appears.

Take the case of seafood. Australia is in the enviable position of having been ranked in the top five countries for fisheries management and the majority of commercial fish stocks in Australia are assessed as sustainable.

However, 72% of seafood consumed in Australia is imported. Surprisingly, there is little difference between the carbon footprint of meals made using imported seafood compared with those of three domestic wild-caught fish.

10 tips for eating local

So given that eating local can be tricky, here are 10 tips:

1: Become familiar with foods that are grown or produced locally and what time of the year they are available. Seasonal food guides are available from some fruit markets and online such as one developed for south-east Queensland.

2: Look for local farmers markets, community gardens, food co-operatives and community supported agriculture schemes. Green Connect is one example of a community-supported agriculture scheme operating in the Illawarra region of New South Wales. In some states such as Tasmania, a thriving food tourism culture may encourage consumers to eat locally but this concept has not been replicated in other parts of the country.

3: Grow your own fruit and vegetables and keep chickens in your own backyard, or get involved in your local community garden, and trade produce with neighbours.

4: Read the labels of packaged foods. The new “Made in Australia” labelling on foods makes it easier to determine where the food (and its individual components) has been grown, processed and packaged.

Australia’s origin labelling can help choose food produced closer to home.
Australia government

5: Choose less processed foods. Generally, the more processed a food is, the more energy and water it requires in the production process. Replace junk food with fresh fruit, nuts and vegetables.

6: Take the Eco Friendly Food Challenge and get some friends to join you.

7: Cook meals using fresh ingredients rather than purchasing ready-made meals.

8: Ask your food retailers and manufacturers about the origin of the food you are buying. Locate fruit and vegetable retailers, butchers, delicatessens and fishmongers who sell food produced locally.

9: Limit your intake of alcohol and purchase locally-grown alcohol with the lowest food miles possible. If you enjoy a particular beer or wine, contact the manufacturer to learn about their environmental policies and to advocate for more environmentally friendly production methods.

10: The Fair Food Forager app allows you to search for food outlets that adhere to fair and sustainable practices.

Creating consumer demand for more locally and sustainably produced food is being led not only by food champion Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, but also by our very own Australian Youth Food Movement, whose organisers are passionate about improving the food supply for future generations.

The Conversation

Karen Charlton, Associate Professor, School of Medicine, University of Wollongong and Amy Carrad, PhD Candidate – Public Health, University of Wollongong

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Fonterra pushes efficiencies and cuts 750 jobs

Fonterra Co-operative Group today provided a further update on its business review.

Fonterra Chief Executive Theo Spierings said the purpose of the review was to ensure that Fonterra remains well positioned to compete in a rapidly changing global dairy market.
 
One-off savings generated by changes the Co-operative is making during the business review, such as improving working capital, have already enabled the Co-operative to support our farmers during challenging market conditions.
 
The review is an on-going process that looks at the entire business to identify potential areas where the Co-operative can find more efficiencies and improve future performance. This has included a reduction of roles across the Co-operative which to date totals 750 roles.
 
“We have great people, but we have to make tough decisions to ensure Fonterra remains competitive in this environment. We will continue to fine-tune our organisation to ensure we best support the initiatives identified by our business review,” Mr Spierings said.
 
“Our business is looking to the future with the momentum, energy and solid plans needed to keep improving performance.”

Farmers can now milk Fonterra for funds

Fonterra farmers can now apply for Fonterra Co-operative Support, a loan to help them deal with the current challenging conditions. 

According to the dairy company, these challenging conditions include the low forecast Farmgate Milk Price for next season, which is currently set at $3.85 kgMS.

This is the first time the Co-op has leveraged its strength to provide support to its farmers at such a significant level, a Fonterra spokesperson noted.

Chairman John Wilson said Fonterra is well placed to help its farmers because of the Co-operative’s underlying strength.

“Being able to help our farmers is all about standing together as a Co-operative and using our collective strength to get through these tough times,” said Mr. Wilson. 
Farmer shareholders can apply for an interest-free loan of 50 cents for every kilogram of share-backed milk solids produced from 1 June to 31 December 2015. The loan will be interest-free until 31 May 2017, after which Fonterra may charge interest.

Farmers can repay all or part of the loan at any time and no security is required over their shares or any other assets. The loan will be repayable directly from milk payments, and automatic repayments will occur when Total Advance Rate Payments exceed $6.00.

Applications open today and close on 25 September 2015. Farmers can apply online (the preferred option) at nzfarmsource.co.nz, or by email, fax or post.
 

 

JOIN OUR NEWSLETTER

JOIN OUR NEWSLETTER
Close